LONDON (Dispatches) -- Researchers have recently been able to identify signs of brain impairment in patients as early as nine years before they receive a diagnosis for one of a number of dementia-related diseases.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge analyzed data from the UK Biobank and found impairment in several areas, such as problem solving and number recall, across a range of conditions.
They discovered that in the future , at-risk patients could be screened to help select those who would benefit from interventions to reduce their risk of developing one of the conditions, or to help identify patients suitable for recruitment to clinical trials for new treatments.
These scientists turned to UK Biobank, a biomedical database and research resource containing anonymised genetic, lifestyle and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40-69. They gathered data from a battery of tests including problem solving, memory, reaction times and grip strength, as well as data on weight loss and gain and on the number of falls.
Those who went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease scored more poorly compared to healthy individuals when it came to problem solving tasks, reaction times, remembering lists of numbers, prospective memory (our ability to remember to do something later on) and pair matching. This was also the case for people who developed a rarer form of dementia known as frontotemporal dementia.